|Me and my siblings, Christmas 1983|
Dad's plan was to hurtle down Coonskin Drive [coasting, out of gas], make a ninety-degree right-hand turn onto Greenbrier Street at the foot of the hill, somehow traverse all the way down Greenbrier to Washington Street, and then get gas. In order to overcome the uphill section of Greenbrier before it eventually descended again, he had to gain an incredible rate of speed.
As crazy as his plan was, he almost succeeded.....Most people died during substantial collisions in those days. Steering columns did not collapse but served as invasive weapons of intrusion. Because there were no safety belts, passengers and drivers alike were often propelled through jagged windshields and decapitated.
Speed was a huge factor and public service films were shown yearly in high school gymnasiums across the nation. Generations of students were traumatized by gruesome images which were not gratuitous but certainly graphic. The bottom line was, whether you lived or died as a result of a crash was largely Allah's will.....
Having had a vasectomy the year before, effectively all of Dad's genetic material eggs rested within one 3,000-pound basket, said basket hurtled down Coonskin Drive. Mom started making unhappy noises and disapproving comments before we were out of the park.
The Crestliner's speedometer hit forty right at the ranger's office; Dad announced this with half an octave too high of a pitch in his voice. The feral glint in Dad's eye was visible in the rear-view mirror. I knew we were in for an adventure.....
On the right-hand side of the road, a World War II tank stood at attention. Its turret seemed to turn slightly and track us as we passed, but it was probably an optical illusion caused by the reflection of the park ranger's flashing red lights.
Still, the cannon did seem to salute those of us who were about to die.
~~Excerpt, "No Joy in Mudville" (Memoirs)
[Tomorrow: You've Got to Be Kind]